A new walking-biking trail along Kachemak Drive is a dream for a growing number of people in Homer who are advocating for it to be built. A number of roadways are hazardous, with barely enough room for cars to pass one another in pockets on East End Road and places like Kachemak Drive. Pedestrians slog along, trying to find a place to walk where they aren’t in the roadway. In places, that is an impossible task.
Add to this bike riders who want to commute from East End Road to areas along Kachemak Drive, and you’ve got yet another problem. Since the area is industrial marine, with the Homer Boat Yard traffic doing its seasonal business, the traffic on that road often involves trailering boats, even airplanes. Now you have walkers, bikers, big moving vehicles and regular traffic co-mingling.
Surely, there isn’t another heavily populated area in such dire need for a trail. When the Homer City Council objected to moving forward with a plan, one of the objections is that other trails might be getting neglected with all the focus – and the limited funding – aimed at this one. But given the matrix on Kachemak Drive, it appears to be the correct place to focus attention.
We know from population studies that often the people on bikes or on their legs getting from one place to another are school children, people who don’t own cars either because they can’t afford one or don’t want one, and people disabled and therefore unable to gain a driver’s license. A trail does a lot more than move people from one place to another. It ensures their safety and a good trail is an efficient byway. When the Reber Trail was completed off Fairview Avenue, it opened a new avenue of travel for kids and teens, hikers, bikers and walkers. Suddenly, teens living on the lower West Hill could walk to the trail head, and in no time they could be at the Homer Theatre, say, to watch a movie or other activities. The trail presents options when they miss a bus, granted the weather allows it.
A group of people have worked for more than a year now, identifying key questions for the trail: Where should the route go? Pavement or gravel? How to gain easements? What will it cost? The grassroots effort has entirely been done by the elbow grease of citizens advocating to end the unsafety of that road and to increase the aetherics. It hasn’t cost a dime of public funding so far.
The Kachemak Drive Path Committee, the Transportation Advisory Commission and Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee are all working together. Now they have hit a snag and can’t go much further without professional engineering advice. That’s where their $20,000 request to the Homer City Council comes in.
Ultimately, in leveraging grants available for such projects, this trail could end up costing the city very little. Let’s hope when the kinks are worked out of the revised resolution in the works, that this plan is green-lighted for a go-ahead. We need to be foresighted and not wait for a tragic accident on the road before we take action.
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